The Social Networker

by Chris Miller at 10:49:10 AM on Monday, July 21st, 2008
I recently read a posting on the costs associated with purchasing and enabling your own corporate social network.  After I sat back and put some thought into it, the idea is not far fetched.  How long does it take you to gain any ROI from the effort?  The steps look like this:
  • Generate team (could be one unlucky person which then makes it a solo network, not a social network) to find possible software to test.  Keep in mind this team may never go on the hunt, but might sit through meeting after meeting while they are pitched.
  • Team then acquires the necessary hardware to run the application
  • Team then spends countless hours learning how to install the software so a bunch can get in there and play
  • A whole pilot should be formed, but is overlooked many times.  This now moves beyond a couple people into the tens of people that have to spend time learning and testing the new software
  • The team makes the necessary changes, and has the pilot group test yet again.
  • The above steps repeat, lather, rinse and repeat again
  • After the testing seems complete, then we lok at implementation
  • More meetings on architecture, SSL, load balancing, network placement, directory integration
  • After all this is done, we enter deployment
  • Deployment takes a couple people involved with a few teams to meet the above and then we go live
  • Users can now get in and use it
  • But this means they have to take training, unless they are wizards.  Some area are self explanatory, yet others take some effort
  • Once they get in, how do you keep them in and constantly putting in information
  • Then how long until the info in there is useful
  • Add in software maintenance and support by the way

What we have entered is a world that has a push for companies to draw out information that was never exposed properly.  Numerous employees spend a lot of time on social networks on a personal level.  But is it as entertaining as the Web 2.0 personal apps?  Heck no.  No one wants to share at work as they wish on the open Internet.  So the product either excels or languishes at this point.

Some users will then take to it and constantly update, fill in information and provide links.  Even start little communities.  The rest will sit blindly by since their day job doesn't have a need in their eyes.  Forget expanding what they know about company products, services and what people do.  They have to be taught how to explore outside those bounds.  Then enters the fight of lost productivity on what they were hired to do.  Is a social network something they were hired to do?  No, so where is the community manager?

This person is directly responsible for guiding topics, communities and being the local evangelist.  (See the above RWW article for a great amount of info) How much do they cost to add to the payroll?  Add all of this up, guess how long before you see a ROI benefit?  Does it ever occur?  

  • 1) Did You OverPay for Your Enterprise Social Network?
    Created by Dennis McDonald at 7/21/2008 12:03:41 PM email | website

    While I think there are a variety of reasons why people don't know -- or won't discuss -- the costs associated with enterprise social network implementation (e.g., see { Link } the situation you describe is one where little planning is involved and the process isn't managed. Whatever management philosophy you adhere to, you still need to manage the process, and part of management is understanding that there are costs involved.

  • 2) Did You OverPay for Your Enterprise Social Network?
    Created by Dennis McDonald at 7/21/2008 12:05:13 PM email | website

    While I think there are a variety of reasons why people don't know -- or won't discuss -- the costs associated with enterprise social network implementation (e.g., see www.ddmcd.com/fix.html), the situation you describe is one where little planning is involved and the process isn't managed. Whatever management philosophy you adhere to, you still need to manage the process, and part of management is understanding that there are costs involved.

  • 3) re: Did You OverPay for Your Enterprise Social Network?
    Created by Chris Miller at 7/21/2008 12:14:10 PM email | website

    Actually there is much planning in the steps I list. The point I was making though is when do you see the realization from the investment you made getting the social network functional and ready for the users. How long till you see verifiable ROI, or do you?



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Yes this is a blatant theft of the outline that Jess uses on her page, but I asked permission. Why?? Because I am a hardcore admin and can make ugly tables to make you developers frustrated, but this was too nice to pass up.

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